Hamilton City Council 10 YEAR PLAN
Do Council Elected Members genuinely listen to the Community when developing key projects and maintenance priorities. Or is it just a sledge hammer to justify a pot of gold for spending against pet projects?
The following is a case study on the Hamilton City Council 2021 10 Year Plan and offers an alternative to Council proposals. The content of the alternative plan has been discussed with a wide range of Community organisations and individuals and refined as conversations have developed.
We are a diverse cross section of the community who think councils have become bogged down in spin and trivia, big spending and poor management. We know there are some great people involved but they need to change their ways for a better future. For them, and us. Now we are calling upon them to be brave, step up to the challenge.
Waikato River Alternatives
Water is today’s gold, the world’s most valuable commodity. Without water, we die.
Locally the Waikato River is our city’s life-giving artery, viewed by Waikato-Tainui metaphorically as their tupuna ancestor and more generally as an environmental and ecological treasure.
Car-free Bridge Alternative
A car-free bridge across the Waikato River linking the CBD to the east is long overdue as a key element in the cross-city walking and cycling mobility network, neighbourhood connectivity, and city transport facilities. This project should illustrate innovative and integrated strategies in the face of climate change and new Government requirements responding to international agreements.
Waikato River Canal Alternative
Last month’s blockage of the Suez Canal got people talking about canals again.
And the long history of the ‘men who wanted the canal’ to link Waikato and Auckland.
In 1910 Hamilton and Auckland Councils and their towns’ Chambers of Commerce held a major conference to agree the long-talked concept of canals linking the Waikato River to the two harbours, Manukau and Waitemata. Over decades, they continued to promote the project.
Three Waters Reforms Alternative
Central Government wants to amalgamate and centralise water services from all 67 local councils - that’s potable/drinking water, wastewater/sewerage, and stormwater systems.
We recommend that Council postpone any implementation of the proposed ‘compliance rate’ at least until 2022/23 and after the finalisation of the proposed Government Three Waters reforms
Resource Management Act Alternative
We recommend an independent local expert advisory group to work with the Council and the Government on the development of the proposed new regional plans, with an emphasis on liveable communities. Result - $12.4million deleted from the draft Plan (pg 62)
Affordable Housing Alternative
We recommend Hamilton City Council, supported by a local Expert Advisory Group skilled in negotiations (refer separate Democracy submission), invite the small group of local greenfield landowners to meet collectively with them to agree and finalise priorities and a timetable for infrastructure development to ensure the rapid freeing up of significant areas of land for residential development through a partnership entity;
Founders Theatre & Heritage Alternative
Councillors are already familiar with TOTI’s proposal to retain and repurpose the city’s Founders Theatre as a community-connecting Town Hall activity centre. We have now been advised that Heritage NZ will be evaluating the theatre’s heritage status this month.
This submission reconfirms our call to council to support TOTI’s rejuvenation project, retain the proposed funding for the site (with options for demolition or retention), this matter be reviewed during the 2022-23 Annual Plan process, and no further action be taken by the council in the meantime.
Democracy, Engagement and Public Accountability
We tailor the following integrated set of recommendations as an attempt to restore confidence and foster accountability in local government, strengthen the relationship between council and community, and contemplate the changing role of the council prior to the 2022 elections in the likely event of government’s removal of functions.
Hamilton City Council is planning to collect $226 million from ratepayers this year (from 1 July). That’s an extra $26 million on the previous year and an increase of 8.9% to existing ratepayers. Over the next decade, they are proposing to spend $3.7 billion “on the everyday costs of running the city”, plus $2.5 billion on capital projects.
The council’s net debt will increase to $631 million in the coming year, rising to a billion in five years (2026) and up to $1.189 billion in 2031. These projections will change significantly in the event of the proposed Three Waters and RMA reforms and regional amalgamation of these services - as the Auditor-General’s audit cautions (pg 81) (refer separate submission)